Aghora Formless

Aghora Formless
After seven years, Miami prog metal masters Aghora have released their magnum opus, Formless, introducing new singer Diana Serra, whose vocals suit the music better than that of former chanteuse Danishta Rivero. They’re no longer Cynic or Atheist clones — they’re still metal but with fewer teeth. "Atmas Heave” and "Moksha” are total prog workouts featuring Dysrhythmia-styled fret board mayhem densely woven with massive polyrhythms and soaring vocals. The instrumental "Garuda” begins with breathing room for exotic guitar chords, cymbal washes and finger percussion then rips through with guitarist Santiago Dobles’ wailing solos and dive-bombing leads. "Dual Alchemy” phases through furious Testament-like thrash and acoustic Opeth-flavoured passages. "Dime,” dedicated to Dimebag Darrell, is a mini-tribute to Pantera’s most essential solos, while "Mahayana” sports Serra’s Egyptian vocal effects, ending with a King Crimson-like chord progression. The title track is the best example of their current sound: Serra’s the Gathering-like vocals over complex, intricate guitar and drum work, sounding like Hemispheres-era Rush with ample amounts of Tool mixed in. Book-ended by exotic ethno-ambient tracks like Trial of the Bow, Formless is a landmark of progressive metal, and since Season of Mist just signed the band, Aghora will incontestably turn up on many year-end best-of lists.

How has the addition of Diana improved Aghora?
Dobles: I think she makes it easy for us to play more challenging material. Also, Diana has a wider spectrum and range. Danishta has a unique sound and I like it very much but Diana, I think, fits Aghora better.

Is Formless a concept album?
It is. It’s about the liberation of soul, mind, and body. Liberation from all illusions, all concepts, everything. It has a lot of "purging,” or emotional healing. You have to take it little by little to digest it musically and philosophically. It’s a deep album.

Aghora are partially responsible for raising the awareness of technical/progressive metal, and urging both Cynic and Atheist out of retirement. We kept the small flame lit through many years of darkness without good or new prog metal. Atheist and Cynic were huge influences on me when I was 16 years old. I loved what they both did and still enjoy listening to them. I am glad Cynic are doing what Atheist started and have decided to tour again. I, unfortunately, dropped out of the Cynic reunion due to schedule commitments, but we in Aghora are looking forward to doing some dates with Atheist soon. (Dobles)